First Tank Substrate Question - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-22-2013, 01:51 AM Thread Starter
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First Tank Substrate Question

I am planning out my first planted tank. I have a 20gal and have been doing a lot of reading about anything and everything on this forum to help me. Though some of it has just confused me more.

Any way I am trying to figure out what substrate I want to use and wanted some help/opinions.

I was thinking about using MGOCPM due to cost and it seems to be the easiest in terms of "set it and forget it" when it comes to having to add stuff to help with plant growth. If I go that route and wanted to cap it with the Black Diamond sand how thick should the cap be and how thick do I make the MGOCPM. Also is the MGOCPM ok to slope with?

I also saw that petsmart has floramx for $10 per 12lb bag. So that would could also be a possibility.

I guess I am looking for a push in one direction or another.

Thanks in advance
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-22-2013, 02:27 AM
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Hello,

I have limited experience with MGOCPM (just my last tank) but I will try to help you if I can.

In my tank I put about 1" of MGO underneath ~1.5-2" of eco-complete. I have read that you dont really want more than 2" of MGO or it can cause problems. I think you might be able to do small hills but I believe a drawback of MGO is that you cant really make extensive hills. It might work if you used a "terrace" system with rocks so you can create a separate area that is higher than the foreground.

I found MGO to be a great substrate but as with all things it has its plus and minuses. As I said before I didnt have much luck with making hills out due to the warnings I read so I just created a slope from back to front using the same amount of soil and more eco-complete. My tank had pressurized co2 and I grew HC and DHG very easily and the DHG quickly became unmanageable with little addition of ferts. I would only dose when I saw deficiencies in my plants.

In my new tank I decided to use Fluval Stratum instead of MGO + eco-complete. The main thing I didn't like about dirt is that it can be very tough to replant because once the roots get into down there they take off like crazy and if you pull anything you are going to mix the soil. The main thing I liked about soil was the crazy plant growth


Really its personal choice. MGO has great value and works great if you can deal with the downsides.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-22-2013, 05:21 PM
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A simple, inert substrate will give you a good start while still letting you easily move plants and hard scape elements around without any fuss. It also provides for fewer variables as you move thru setting up the new tank, figuring out fertilization and light levels, and dealing with the inevitable issues that pop up.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-22-2013, 07:48 PM
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Agreed with KYR... for a very first planted tank I would avoid soil and go with something a bit more conventional.


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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-22-2013, 07:56 PM
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Agreed with above. Soil as a newcomer can be a tough experience. Nonetheless, if you feel like you're up for it, use a 1:1 ratio of soil to cap. I suggest flourite or something with a high CEC as a cap. You can slope, but over time just about all slopes begin to flatten out as you move stuff around. If you want to do it right (and want the easy route) go with ada aquasoil or start basic with Eco complete.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-23-2013, 01:49 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback.


Question though besides the moving of the plants and hardscape, what is going to make using a caped MG harder than using an inert substrate that I will have to fertilize?
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-23-2013, 04:05 PM
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Potting mix is organic and nutrient rich. Nutrient rich means that even if capped, you will have some stuff leaching out into the water column, and if you don't do lots of water changes and have lots of fast growers that will keep things in balance you will say "hello algae". Organic means that it will decompose, slowly, leading to foul smelling gas pockets building up and bubbling to the surface. It also means possibly stained water, and stuff (peat and other particles) drifting around in the water column.
None of these are totally insurmountable problems, but as a beginner, they can be discouraging for you. More nutrients <> better. Starting with a less nutritious substrate like Flourite you have more control over adding nutrients, rather than hoping that the rate of leaching will be ~ equal to what is needed by your plants.


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-23-2013, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotthop57 View Post
I am planning out my first planted tank. I have a 20gal and have been doing a lot of reading about anything and everything on this forum to help me. Though some of it has just confused me more.

Any way I am trying to figure out what substrate I want to use and wanted some help/opinions.

I was thinking about using MGOCPM due to cost and it seems to be the easiest in terms of "set it and forget it" when it comes to having to add stuff to help with plant growth. If I go that route and wanted to cap it with the Black Diamond sand how thick should the cap be and how thick do I make the MGOCPM. Also is the MGOCPM ok to slope with?

I also saw that petsmart has floramx for $10 per 12lb bag. So that would could also be a possibility.




I guess I am looking for a push in one direction or another.

Thanks in advance
I personally use Floramax and cap it with carib sea Black sand, and my plants are growing like crazy and my bottom feeders love the sand, and so do i because it keeps all the food and waste at the top for easy cleaning and for the fish to eat (the left over food) if you need a picture of it just let me know.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-23-2013, 04:47 PM
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I've used both Floramax and CaribSea and have had good success with both...

The bags say don't rinse, but I've found that if you don't rinse there's a lot of cloud


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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-23-2013, 04:50 PM
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I'm on the other side of the spectrum where i struggled with plants before using soil.

rescaping might be hard but ive never have done this well with my plants before going dirty

It is better to travel well than to arrive.


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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-23-2013, 04:56 PM
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If I were NOT one of those who frequently uproot's plant's,, I would use the MGO potting mix capped with sand or fine gravel.
Nothing bad from plant's perspective from doing so unless you have too much light.
Plant the tank fairly heavy from outset, and wait a week or two before placing fauna in the tank.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-23-2013, 05:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drewsuf82 View Post
I've used both Floramax and CaribSea and have had good success with both...

The bags say don't rinse, but I've found that if you don't rinse there's a lot of cloud
Absolutely you have to rinse them specially the floramax because it makes a mess.
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